Skip to main content

tv   Capital News Today  CSPAN  July 25, 2011 11:00pm-2:00am EDT

11:00 pm
.. the saudis tried to have a so-called day of rage on march march 11, and exactly one person showed up in riyadh.
11:01 pm
that person was swamped by journalists, but 17,000 people had signed up on the facebook page to come out and participate in that day of rage. some shiites in the eastern province showed up today before the day before and had their demonstration, but basically, the saudi's saudis have been able to mobilize not only the threat of security forces cracking down on anybody who demonstrates. they have the religious establishment and the issue of fatwa making any demonstrations religiously forbidden. they have put pressure on families to keep their kids at home and they succeeded. in the case of bahrain, it was much messier, and you have a shiite majority there are of 70%, maybe 65 or 70% and they were on their way to probably
11:02 pm
overthrowing the monarchy there if the demonstrations had been allowed to continue, but this are obese in the late march moved in with some other troops from the united arab emirates and ships to patrol the waters around bahrain to kuwait and they crashed the uprising. now, particularly in the case of bahrain i think the united states is really facing a very difficult problem because we are a democracy and we are trying to promote democracy and we are for protection and promotion of human rights. and if we follow through on those commitments, and really work at this, you are very likely going to end up with a shiite dominated government in bahrain.
11:03 pm
it is a lot closer to iran and then than it is to saudi arabia. so this is a real dilemma for the u.s. government, for the obama administration. the state department has been working very hard on trying to get the two sides there to talk to each other and work out some compromise and some formula. the shiite opposition -- he started a national dialogue. the shiite opposition said we are not going to participate. they just pulled out last week. things are very tense. there are a lot of demonstrations going on in the government there is practicing a kind of collective punishment on anybody who had anything to do with the demonstrations there in march. so it is still a very ugly situation and i think it really poses a real dilemma for the united states about how far you push for human rights and democracy if the end result is going to be a government that is
11:04 pm
dominated by shiites and that is much friendlier to iran. now, morocco is kind of a happy story here. the king mohammad reacted extremely quickly to the demonstrations. they started to call the february 20 movement there are. he came out in a speech on march 9 and said we are going to reform the constitution and we are going to have really big changes. we were there when he finally deliver the constitution. i think it was the 18th of june, and indeed he has really gone a long way relatively speaking when you are thinking of all the other monarchies in the arab world, toward beginning to share power. a couple of things are worth noting. he has committed himself to
11:05 pm
appointing a prime minister from the party that wins elections even if it is opposition or whoever it is. that is extraordinary when you think of what is going on in the other monarchies in the arab world. he has given the parliament much more power to enact laws, propose bills and enact laws. the prime minister is much longer. he is beginning to share security issues with a national security council that has civilians on it. so he is definitely beginning to move. exactly how this new constitution, how it will work out we don't know but at least he is beginning to move and king of morocco is way ahead of all the monarchs in the arab world. now i just want to finish on the development issue, and talk a little bit about the economic problems of egypt and tunisia.
11:06 pm
they are really incredibly complicated and raised serious issues about sustaining democratic transition. in the case of egypt, in both cases tourism is very important and tourism has gone way down. but what others may particularly in egypt is that a lot of the old kind of arab socialist statist tendencies are coming back, reasserting themselves and they want to stop the privatization of state companies. they are pressing for higher salaries. it is going to be harder to do business in that country. it is probably going to be a year before we even know if they have gone through the process of choosing a new parliament and the president.
11:07 pm
it will probably be at least until early next year before we even know who the president and what the relationship between the presidency and the parliament is going to be let alone with the economic policy is of the new egypt. but whoever is in power there going to be under a lot of pressure from labor unions that are demanding higher salaries. they have almost doubled the minimum salary in the country in the last month. so that the cost of this transition is going to be very expensive. now fortunately they are getting quite a bit of support from the gulf arab countries. the saudi's have put in 4 billion, united arab emirates three. qatar is talking about 10 billion over five or 10 years. but the cash money is coming from saudi arabia and the united arab emirates and that is important right now. in the case of tunisia, are you
11:08 pm
going to talk about tunisia? the business community -- their tourism is way down but the textile industry is actually doing okay and that is a big part of their business in tunisia. the main problem is again, nobody knows what the economic policy of the country is going to be because you have to go through elections. and then elections, they are going to elect the constituent assembly. and they have got to get a new president. they have to get beyond and in turn so you are talking about six or nine months before you have a government that is able to establish an economic policy. both of these countries, their growth rate has gone from five or six or seven down to one. and i think this coming year if they have any growth rate it will be a miracle. the same problem of joblessness
11:09 pm
of university graduates. the pressures will beyond these governments and the economy is floundering. so i think it is going to be really tough for these two countries in this transition period. >> hello. i am very happy to be here and i will try to say something and eight minutes, which is a challenge. david and i divided the pie and i got -- he got to monarchies and i got two republics, tunisia and egypt. but i will focus more on egypt because this is what i'd know best. i have been in and out of egypt for so many decades and hardly dare say how many. i was in tunisia last month, and
11:10 pm
i was in egypt during the revolution, the first phase. some people call it the uprising. and i left on march 9. that was the day after the international women's day demonstration which turned rather nasty. so, i think i have got the good news in a way, part of it, because there was a need for having toppling these dictators and moving in a more democratic direction, and also although the economy is in a very bad shape and the gross national product is going down and all that, nevertheless the bulk of the population was not really in very good economic shape, and as
11:11 pm
you know, i mean it got started with this format -- man who is putting himself on fire and it was very symbolic of the poverty issue. the revolution in egypt, there were many many demonstrations before that, which were actually aimed at gaining a more justice for poor workers. i just wanted to make a few broad comments and we could discuss -- flesh things out during the discussion. but, i have a fairly optimistic look at the revolutions in tunisia and egypt but i must hasten to add that i do believe that the first year and even the first-term of the round of elections, i mean after the
11:12 pm
first four years after the elections have been they will be difficult and in the immediate future things are not easy at all. but i do think that we will be -- or they will be moving in a right direction. i wanted to make a few comments about how we think about things, particularly this whole question of secular and religious and muslim brothers and seller fees and so on. and when i was in egypt, it was very interesting because of course we were living minute by minute this revolution. and i was 20 minutes from tahrir square. i didn't go into the square for various reasons but it was close enough to be almost there. and we were very much taken up with the fact that the story was egypt. this is what it was about. it was about egypt and of course it was about getting rid of mubarak and obviously at the end changing the regime but first
11:13 pm
getting rid of him. and i kept getting e-mails from here, my friends and they kept going on you know, and what about all of this? i sort of was saying, and half jokingly that my god over there they are possessed with religion and over here we are all obsessed with secular, in the sense many of the nation-state which is composed of people of different religions. now, it has been very interesting for somebody who has lived there for several decades and i have been in and out of homes here in washington and there are. and the whole shifting of categories and what it means. the muslim brothers of course are not the muslim brothers established in 1948. it is not the muslim brothers of the nazi years or a lot of the mubarak years. it is constantly shifting and changing and also we have to
11:14 pm
look at the generational aspect. i mean many of you probably know that the youth are, many of the youth are parting ways with the old generation and many of these youth were in the square, into rear. they were co-mingling and mingling with you might call the more secular counterparts. often people don't need because of the way society works. so there was a certain kind of appreciation for the other although still there is inoperable -- a lot of wariness. many are much more tuned in to what secular young progressive youth want and also the youth now -- i do gender studies and i have always looked at gender in women and the youth are very gender mixed. i went to several meetings prior to the march 9 demonstrations,
11:15 pm
and it was women and men, youth, both youth. i mean male youth and female youth and they are much more mixed in general. it is the elders that you see are kind of age male hierarchy. now, also what is interesting is -- so it is hard for us to think, what are these muslim brothers and what do they want and the groupings within the groupings and so on. of course they formed a party, the freedom of justice party and how well they behave? because they will have to compete in the democracy that they say they want because before they were always oppositional and they were always in resistance mode. they haven't really had practice doing this. what they have got going for them as everyone knows is, they have got a lot of support from the base because when the government was not getting social services it was these folks are forgetting the social services, so they have a very clear base there.
11:16 pm
now, but what i want to also say is that i know this, and it was very clear when i was in tunisia come in tunisia there is much more strict division between the secular and the religious and i see it even with my sort of progressive feminist friends. they get the shivers that they have to use their religious language and it is this lazy thing. is much more reflects their experience under colonialism. but the egyptians, it is much different. the sect or feminist, there is a much less clear division between the secular and the religious and people are able to use different discourses to the same effect like human rights or social justice. they may run it through a filter of islam. they may run it through a filter of a more human international u.n. human rights filter but there is much more sort of
11:17 pm
leading if i may put it that way so there isn't that polarization. another thing that is totally interesting is that from a religious corridor there is wanting of a much more clear separation between religion and state. they have come out and they want a more firm separation of the religious dimension from the state because the states, starting with nasser, pointed the grand mosque the and our tar. so these folks were always under the space. these folks wanted separation. now, monks the muslim brothers, there are some -- there are now a variety coming out but early on the brothers were saying we want a secular state. but i think that there is more
11:18 pm
of a clearer, actually interestingly enough, distinction between religion and state and not that it is going to be easy to work this out and there will be some folks that will want to mess it up, to blend it more, but i think we should really think about that. these terms, we don't know what the terms mean and a longer. they are much fuller and more complex and the religious -- the more conservative or religious folks will still have to play in the democratic sort of arena and it is expected that the brothers will get -- some people think 30 and some people think 30% and so they have a lot going for them. but still, they need to also be attentive. now the other issue is of course
11:19 pm
the supreme council, the armed forces. there are folks that are very nervous you know, about how long they will stay there and how much control they are having and so on. so you have the army. you have the religious folks and then you have the sort of general secular scene. maybe i have used up my eight minutes and you can ask questions to flush out any of these points. thank you. >> thank you margo and david. i will just make three relatively quick points and then open it up to you for questions. in the case of syria and in the case of egypt, and in the case of tunisia in my view there is a little bit of that power corrupts and absolute power
11:20 pm
corrupts absolutely. the regimes in those three countries that existed had peasant roots, if you will. they came up but when they got into the capital and they got some power they forgot their peasant roots. the gap between rich and poor in egypt, the gap between rich and poor in tunisia and the gap between the rich and the poor and serious became more and are obvious with the gears. corruption got worse and worse in all three cases. and frankly, they forgot where they came from. and they forgot to try and help the people that they came for. and i think that was a dynamic that played and is playing out in all free societies. don't lose sight of the fact that -- the size of egypt.
11:21 pm
the population of tunisia is about half the size of cairo. the population of tunisia is about half the size of cairo. cairo during the day is close to 19 million, 20 million people. the population of tunisia is about 10 million. the military is going to be a very strong force in what happens in egypt or what doesn't happen i think, at least for for the short-term. they have not yet been able to focus on the role of the military and what it will be. the military in egypt frankly operates a bit like the military in pakistan. it is a state within a state. they have their own economy and they had their own businesses and their revolution as it exists in egypt, the uprising as it exists, whatever you want to call it, has not yet focused on what will be that future role of
11:22 pm
this pebble in the room. the floor is open. yes. direct your question to somebody. push it up on the side, i think. [inaudible] the question is about yemen. when we talk about the arab spring and the uprising -- i would also like to hear little bit more about georgia. that seemed to be a key in the region.
11:23 pm
>> margot and david white at you say something about jordan and yemen. why would you start on yemen, the uprising of the yemen that has been going on for about a decade. and it has involved people from south yemen that are not too happy about the union of the two yemen's and the short end of the stick that they got. its minorities in the north near the saudi border that have had a revolution going on for several years and the tribal disputes. so there has been a long-standing conflict. david. yeah, you right there. >> yemen is a really fascinating case of the inability of its foreign allies to make a difference. not only we worked really hard to get president out of the u.s. government but so did the saudi's and all the monarchies that are providing all the money to them and they have not --
11:24 pm
even though he is now in riyadh recovering from a bomb explosion and he is badly burned and the saudi's could take it to stop them from flying back, they don't want to do that sort of thing. particularly because they were really upset the way we dealt with mubarak and told him to go. so, none of us have been able to force him to step down. he has got his own supporters, probably not as many as the opposition at this point but he still got a lot of supporters. everybody's afraid it is going to be a total civil war so everybody is sort of handling holly sala and his future with kid gloves. and it is not just our problem. it is the whole areas problem
11:25 pm
and nobody has been able to solve the. going to jordan, the king has got to be king. he keeps blaming the conservative opposition for blocking reform. he is allowing conservative elements of his society to weigh in and dominate and stop meaningful reform of the country. and martone washer who is the deputy prime minister in charge of reform for three years in jordan came up with a plan for reform. it was defeated. this was two or three years ago. so, the king has got to start being king and force new reform. >> just on that, i would be interested whether you think the model you have david in morocco
11:26 pm
and in fact where the king continues to keep a finger on the defense portfolio if you will pass a civilian prime minister and whatnot that is running the country day today. whether that kind of model could work in jordan or could work in bahrain. >> one of the most striking things about north africa compared to the rest of the arab world is how developed clinical society is. there are a zillion parties and morocco, algeria and tunisia. they have 20 or 30 parties. they have labor unions. they have ngos. nigeria has a trotskyite party. you get all from islamist to extreme leftist groups.
11:27 pm
it is very developed politically. jordan, parties exist but they are not allowed to develop. so what i'm saying is that the situations in their societies quite different between jordan and morocco. the king has hinted at an elected prime minister which goes back to what morocco is doing. he hasn't said they are going to do it. so i guess he has taken that idea from morocco. maybe somehow they could have an elected prime minister. even while keeping control of the overall political system just like the king of morocco will still do under this new constitution. so i think he might take some elements from the moroccan new
11:28 pm
constitution. but morocco is far ahead of jordan in terms of development, the political development of society. >> margot you wanted to add something? >> i was going to really reinforce what you said. i was living in yemen at the end of the '90s, early this century and it has been so turbulent and even within the north of course the tribe, the sole problem, but it is very tribal and it is very difficult for anybody obviously. they have not won force over the other but the other thing that fascinated me was the huge number of women that wear out and about on the streets. i am in touch with some of them. so that part is actually rather cheering that they are so up front politically.
11:29 pm
>> yemen is also another case where a president with peasant roots got into a position of power and became extraordinarily corrupt and developed a clip talkers -- autocracy of his family and what not. >> thank you. this is actually for margot. you said earlier on the muslim brotherhood was saying they wanted a divided government is doing secular religious but they want some sort of the separation of church and state but you also said the state has been getting a little muddled so my question is what he think they want now? what you think they really want and have i misunderstood you and if they do when it were out the majority of the new egyptian government would be think that means for egypt in the region in terms of secularization and modernization for the area? >> you heard me right. things are getting more money.
11:30 pm
i have been reading this in recent editions. there has been a lot of -- it looks like the brotherhood situation is getting more confiscated and i can't tell if some of these folks have just sort of emphasized the danger, part of it in these folks really are wanting less of a split ban then some of the spokespeople said during and right in the media -- and mediate aftermath of the uprising part of the revolution. but there are people who are getting nervous and so they may may be overanalyzing there. it may be that they are not quite as desirous of getting a more religious definition to the state. now, i personally think -- i
11:31 pm
don't think that they will upset the balance of what we have now as the secular state. i think they will act more like the party in turkey and a lot of people think that existed that goes to religious, there will be a lot a lot of problems economically and politically and with this country. it and they want you know, to get an power them power and i don't think they want to court order create that kind of problem. i don't even think they would evil to pull it off, and so the trick is really to understand the difference between their own rhetoric and what they may want and the analyses. some people seem to me to afraid. i mean one should the, one should be vigilant and cautious but not exaggerated. in short, think it is hard to read but i would come down on
11:32 pm
the side that they will definitely go with this secular state. in any case egypt, the family law is still religious law. there are some people who want to make that secular so i think that there are places where people can trade. in other words okay you can have your family law and don't mess with the state. i don't think we have to worry about egypt becoming a religious faith. >> for 30 years of being underground really it is very hard all of a sudden to have your act totally together and a lot of this is playing out with different factions and it is going to take time for it to coalesce. questions? yes, the gentleman over here and then there. >> i thank you so much. i am curious to know how iran altogether is playing a part in
11:33 pm
internal development of each of because after reading a lot of things about lebanon and its early development in the 80's and what not to take a while for us to completely realize you know all the negative happenings that were happening to that very secular state and i'm wondering if the same -- my what kind of role they are playing and how can we counteract the type of role and prevent them from actually radicalizing the state is possibly at all? >> go ahead. >> i, i don't -- i do not think that is possible, that iran is going to play any kind of important or even semi-important role and they will not radicalize egypt. i think they are very separate and apart indistinct from it. that is my sense that i never ever hear the the i word in each of. is not heart of what people are thinking. of course i know that there could be a danger that people aren't aware of, but that i did not see on the horizon.
11:34 pm
>> david you want to say a comment on that? >> i agree. people are getting excited because the former foreign minister started talking about recognizing and reestablishing relations with tehran, which had been broken off since 79 or 80. >> 40 years i think. >> so people got all excited about that. i don't think that is what it it is about at all. egypt wants to play a bigger role in the middle east and it has got no diplomatic relations with iran. saudi arabia, which regards itself as i ran's main problem and the iranians regard the saudi says the main problem and they have all kinds of problems since the 79 revolution, has diplomatic relations with iran so why shouldn't cairo? and so do all the gulf states.
11:35 pm
so the idea that egypt is going to reestablish relations with iran, don't think that means iran is penetrating egypt at all. >> my view is the iranians want to take advantage of what is going on in the middle east but they have to be careful because they want others to have the freedoms that they won't give their own people and that is not lost on a lot of people. every one of these -- what is striking to me as up until now for one of these uprising has been the internal. they have not been focused on external factors, israel, arab-israeli, i ran, united states, europe. now it doesn't mean that we won't come very soon to a point there will be a clash, but these have been internal. they have indigenous roots in every one of the cases in my
11:36 pm
view. there was a question here. yeah. one of you go first and the other one goes second. >> touching off a that question and touching off of what you were just saying. you talked of little bit about the potential dangers of bahrain if the shia majority were to take control becoming the iranian satellite. has there have been a lot of iranian influence in bahrain so far to think this could be an eventuality of the shia majority? i mean no one else to turn to in the region? >> the iranians have some religious influence in bahrain because there are some iranians that follow one or two of the iranian religious leaders. and they have some influence with the al haq party, which caused the most trouble when
11:37 pm
they came back, when a leader their leader came back from london and joined the demonstrations. they were the ones that started calling for the end of the monarchy, and that particular party i think the bahraini government said they were totally in the hands of the iranians. i don't think it is quite that bad but they clearly have ties with some of the iranian government people. so, but the bahrainis, two-thirds -- my memory is two-thirds of the rainy shiites are arabs, of arab descent. they are not persian. and, their main shiite operation party was the more moderate one which is demanding a majority government so that they can rule.
11:38 pm
they will tell you that this is sort of a fabrication of the bahraini government to say that they are just, the shiites are in the hands of the iranians. i think the iranians will have some influence and i don't think it is going to become as you were saying a satellite of iran but i think it will certainly take its distance from saudi arabia particularly after being invaded by saudi arabia. so it will certainly be a more friendly to iran. what that will turn into overtime could be a real problem for saudi arabia because there is a 60-mile causeway that connects bahrain to the eastern province in eastern provinces where all the oil is and that is world the saudi shiites are. so there is a lot of interaction between shiites and bahrain and
11:39 pm
saudi shiites in the eastern province. so in the long run i think it would definitely end up tilting towards iran. >> unfortunately for saudi arabia, bahrain is a domestic political issue, and it is a red line for them i think, and i just wish the saudi's were willing to give a little bit of reading room to let something be worked out on the island. i don't think the saudi's frankly are there yet because they see the domestic implications of it. david, right? >> yeah. >> you were talking before about euthanasia who are involved in the revolution and how, there has been a lot of women who are very vocal in the past few
11:40 pm
months but i was also reading about the recent proposed election changes, the 64 women. now each party has to have one woman in the top part of their lives. i don't know what the repercussions of those changes are but there are changes in a lot seems to be up for grabs that made before have been like -- i guess what i'm trying to say as to what extent do you see a thread of that tracking on women's rights in egypt and tunisia especially where women have had a protective role in public life since the 60s. at least now that a lot of -- everything is up for grabs and if there's a possibility that maybe these women who have been very involved in the revolution thus far could be sidelined in the future and when it comes to power and positions? >> yes, well of course right after the 18 days when mubarak
11:41 pm
left, within a few weeks, when the constitutional committee was formed of course there were no women on it. and in a sense the bad news could he good news because it alerted people, women, very quick way that it was not going to be an easy road ahead. i was there at this time and there were many meetings held, especially in the law faculties, cairo university and elsewhere and the first woman appointed on the supreme court came to these meetings. they had very impressive women professors of law and activists and so want. and, because there is a sort of a fairly well developed civil society of women's organizations and gender mixed organizations and human rights in all this sort of thing, so i could see them swinging heavily into action and they have much much more space to meet then ever
11:42 pm
happen under mubarak. it was all very difficult. and they have a long history of feminists agitation unbroken, so i could see the generations from the elderly all the way and we brought coming together. it is pretty exciting and women are in all the professions in terms of government employment, there are more women in government than men and so one. but, people are concerned and also the president would have to be -- according to those amendments -- would be a man the way it was written. his mother and so one would have to be -- in egypt. so, i think i actually think people are in fairly good shape. because the youth too or gender mix, there is a lot of connecting at that point.
11:43 pm
in tunisia they are a little bit ahead with the parity. is a good law or policy, where there has to be equal numbers of men and women in political parties? this is not so in egypt. it will be a fight, but i am actually pretty optimistic that it is going to work out. and also, because there was something called islamic feminism which is a discourse ready made for people who need to use it with religious folks, a discourse of gender equality and social justice and human rights. so if you need to run it through that filter it is there. they didn't have that sometime ago. some time ago. i think those folks will be effective on all sorts of fronts. so, i am positive. also, i was there in the square on march 8 and it was the first time i saw in front of myself --
11:44 pm
the destruction of the unity and the square and the nastiness of these thugs. i mean some of them in our opinion where thugs that were sent to disrupt and others were just folks who were burned about women doing what -- having their rights. but i think there's a lot of ability to fight back. >> the gentleman in the back. would either one of you speak a little bit about syria? >> go ahead. go ahead. >> 40 years ago. go ahead. >> as you probably have become aware the country is run by the always better 10 or 12% of the entire population, very small minority. they control the top levels of
11:45 pm
the army and the security forces and they have real problems now. as you can see because of the sustained rebellion and the homologs started -- diallo wife made a mistake. the government made a mistake to have thugs attacking these people who were mostly are mostly sunni. the thugs are al white so it is now threatened to turn into a sick carrion battle and there is no way they can possibly win when they are only 12% of the population. but i think it is an indication of a growing, well, desperation of the worst confusion at the least by the government there about how to deal with these on ending demonstrations that are getting bigger and really threatens the new rule.
11:46 pm
>> turkey has tried extraordinarily hard to play a constructive role bringing them along and by sheer just turned up his nose at the turks and there are a little ticked off right now to be blunt about it. my comment earlier about losing their roots and forgetting about where they came from really, it was a major point of an international crisis group study that was done recently on what was happening in syria. and, the corruption that has. bashar lost an extraordinarily extraordinarily -- the extraordinary amount of legitimacy in the last two months and i don't think he gets that that very easily or very quickly. it is true that and effective
11:47 pm
but leaderless opposition without too many leaders, unorganized groups in 10 different towns, it can wear on but the economy again is tanking as this happens. turkey, europe and effect turned its back on the turks and decided its major diplomatic offensive for the feast day of -- foreseeable future would be to strength and their ties with their neighbors and to strengthen their presence throughout the middle east, including places like libya. and the turks put it egg investment into trade and trying to bring bashar a long. that is all coming unhinged
11:48 pm
right now and i frankly have no idea where it will be a month from now. and, i hope we don't do the natural thing, which often happens in this town frankly which is to withdraw our ambassador and kick their ambassador out because we have got to try to keep talking even if they won't listen. right now they are not listening. yeah. >> this question is for dr. all away but i would love to hear dr. badran's opinion. you said with egypt saudi arabia and the united arab emirates are sending money to keep the egyptian economy afloat. we think that means for the future of the egyptian revolution and the eventual it jinsheng government? what will really happen in that area because of that? >> well, you know the saudi's have a ton of money.
11:49 pm
their reserves or $500 billion. so they can continue. they are given are are given $4.5 billion. they have got plenty of money to continue to help them get over this transition. i think the saudi attitude of what is going on in egypt is profoundly ambiguous because they are not at all interested in having a democracy in saudi arabia. on the other hand they do want stability in egypt and i think they want the military to become a stabilizing force in egypt. and, will continue to put money into helping them get through this transition. not. the qatar money is more for development projects although i
11:50 pm
think of the 10 billion they have talked about, 500 million with cash and all this money coming from the gulf states for egypt has made it possible for them to say we don't want money from the world hankin we don't want an honey from the imf. because they don't want the conditions that are likely to tube t. attached. if they take money from the imf where is the money from the gulf, don't think -- it is given without conditions. so, i think they can count on the gulf states at least for the next year or two, continued to provide them a good deal of the money they need to make it through the transition. speak it is really an insurance policy and no quid pro quo is the way i would put it. go ahead turkowski i mean i think the egyptians want to take the money and run with it as it were. i mean, the saudi's are fairly interested in having the
11:51 pm
military a stable and controlled at the military i really do think they want out and they want to get back to their business and that to their cooler life. this is a pain for them and it is not going to get better for them. and in terms of the general return on any saudi money or support, i mean, saudi's are so universally unappreciated if i may. >> euphemistically. and people shudder about the regime and the set up and everything. i don't think that they will be able to have a huge amount of influence. that is my take. >> yes? >> yeah, dr. ottaway i wonder if you could talk about the social and religious issues.
11:52 pm
i was wondering, you mentioned earlier sort of a fear of a trend towards the old arab nationalistic socialist kind of rhetoric. and, just wondering if you could sort of talk a little bit more about, because if you have a situation where you are starting out trying to develop a new government and you have such drastic wealth disparity, how can you sort of start a state without any sort of drastic redistribution of wealth and if that was to be done, what is the best way to do that without reverting to a socialist state i guess? >> how to have a redistribution of wealth? >> burst evolve if there needs to be a redistribution of wealth because they don't have the fun, a welfare state where they are giving these poor people -- how would that be done and should that be done and what would be the ramification ores or impact of that? >> well, i guess what concerns
11:53 pm
me is that the driving energy for egypt's growth over the past six years, seven years, six years and the last year, was a group of businessmen who in fact were in control of the government, and egypt's gdp nearly tripled between 2004 and 2010. they had an incredible growth spurt, but and now the people who drove that, that spurt, most of them are in jail for corruption or suspected corruption or trying to underlying -- undermine the revolution or whatever so that the business community is kind of under a cloud, slightly discredited, particularly the big business people.
11:54 pm
and on the one hand you have this distrust of the business community and on the other hand have a lot of the workers. when they started going through privatization after 2004, the first thing the private owners did was to fire a large number of workers because these companies were employing too many people, because state companies tend to be kind of part of the social network. they hire them to give them jobs rather than because they need them. so the private equal, companies that took over fired them and then they started hiring a lot of people part-time to cut their costs. so while you had a lot of people getting rich at the top you had a lot of people either of losing their jobs, workers losing their jobs or working part-time and
11:55 pm
you have this growing gap to the point where 40% of egyptians in 2010 were living on $2 a day or less. while you had the suburbs growing up around cairo that cost $1.5 million for a villas. it was just really conspicuous poverty and conspicuous wealth. now, how do you go back towards what you are saying, some kind of social welfare or to help the poor people of egypt without bankrupting the government? that is a very good question and they are facing it on subsidies. subsidies for gasoline and electricity cost the government 20% of their budget. food subsidies are extremely
11:56 pm
important particularly red. they had bread riots in 1977 because they try tried to raise the price of bread. so, one issue is for the poor people, in order to continue to do something to keep prices low. on the other hand particularly the imf and the united states, they want to see subsidies reduced. so that is going to be a real tension about whether or not you continue to help poor people by keeping subsidies. the other issue is under mubarak, an attempt to deal with the poor parts of the country, they identified a thousand of the poorest villages in egypt. they never really did much but they could start doing something to help these poorest villages do better. and while i was in tunisia they
11:57 pm
were talking about, some people were talking about domestic peace corps, sending you know two nations to help the undeveloped heart of the country. could egypt do something like that to help these thousand villages and could the u.s. government put some money into supporting a domestic peace corps or helping these thousand villages and small and medium enterprises? but i think for the government to continue to rely on subsidies or even increase them, they can't afford to do it in the long-term. so this is a real penchant and how in how you deal with this 40% of egyptians that are living on $2 or less. >> do you want to add to that? >> i am no good at figures but there has been quite a bit of american money put in for developing small and medium
11:58 pm
businesses. because this is getting people back up on their feet. i mean you saw it during the revolution. there were people who at the end of 18 days have no money to keep their families going. we met them. so there apparently -- i mean there has been money for developing the small businesses and people are meant to be making proposals and so on. well i do know about the question of subsidies but that population has to be fed. and there is also medical attention. it is absurd. the brothers really deserve all that they got in terms of delivering health and medical you know, services. i mean we all know people who go to them, i mean who have no idea. they are not the poor of the poor. they are middle-class poor and so the states have got to get back and do that.
11:59 pm
of course the state could have done a lot with $1.2 billion in this country and millions from other countries if it hadn't been so siphoned off. so i mean i think you now, when that country is not -- the wealth is not sucked out of it, you know, it can work eventually. obviously it is very difficult now and i think there has to be a balance between what the states will do as there is in this country and medicare and a few other things and social security. those things have to be brought up. yes, the subsidies, they were produced for the bread for example. we still have come every time i went to cairo the bread got smaller and smaller and smaller. >> and the same price. >> yeah, the same price. but, i think when the level of corruption is reduced, i mean we haven't even talked about that.
12:00 am
but the massive corruption in tunisia and in egypt and some of it, i mean we only learned about it afterwards. the extent of it. so, some of that can be put to helping the population but there has to be a balance between the state and the private enterprise. >> i don't want to enter capitol hill debates budged tax collection is something that egypt could do an awful lot better and we could probably help them. indeed is the biggest problem for the greek government outside of the middle east, but in athens it is how to avoid paying any taxes at all. there are some things to do. ..
12:01 am
and is it stability or benevolence? what's our motivation driving force behind intervening in these countries? >> talking about egypt and tunisia? where? >> any of them, intervening for not intervening. >> well, i mean bob crane, i've
12:02 am
already seen one article in australia for saying that there is some sign that the u.s. military needy people are beginning to think about where they should go because the likelihood of more trouble is high. i haven't seen anything of this in an american newspaper. earlier this week came out with a story that people in the u.s. had begun thinking about where we go next but it is a big issue, where do we go, and we've been there for decades so we have big interest there. saudi arabia we clearly have a big interest whether you talk about the 60 billion selling them or the flow of oil out of the gulf etc.
12:03 am
to nisha we don't have strategic interests. that's more i think seen as the success of an era of democracy. which i think we all agree is the best chance of succeeding because of this kind of a middle class revolution so you have to go country by country of what our interests are and it's hard to generalize across the board. i mean, in libya there's oil but we don't want a country to split in half. really the europeans are the most concerned because they already are. so i think our main concerns are egypt, bahrain -- all the gulf states because they are part of -- i.t. we are going to be back to the iranian issue in the next
12:04 am
year, and how we deal with iran we have to have some kind of consensus of the gulf states and work with them about how we are going to contain iran. as we have a lot of interest in the gulf. the problem of iran these are really kind of major issues. but when you get to larocco it isn't that important it's been a close ally and al qaeda in the terrorism and we have security instances. you almost have to go country by country about what our specific interests are. egypt of course is 83 million people. it's kind of in the center of an arab world. we had a lot of interest and
12:05 am
stability. davis then close military allies with us. >> egypt has always been counted upon to as it were keep the peace and be a force of stability obviously it is an influential not just because its 83 million or whatever but highly educated and with all of its long connections but i think it's important to the u.s. that the country succeed, get on its feet and be friendly and, quote on quote, i don't like the word moderate but -- >> so goes the region ultimately. >> is this devotee more important than the political
12:06 am
ideology kuwait >> well, are you saying for example if it were to be an islamic republic -- is the way you're getting at? >> kuwait >> first of all, if it is, then the u.s. has to deal with it don't we? it's obviously the u.s.. it doesn't want that and i don't think they want it to happen, but if it does happen it has to be dealt with. but egypt you always feel it. you never feel the lack of presence at any level of the u.s. in egypt and over all these decades. it's a mixed bag, of course i and the same with the egyptians. how they react to it is also mixed. but, you know, monolithic.
12:07 am
but i think we have a very big and clear interest in that country and i think if it does work out it can develop a democracy which i do think at some level it's not going to be so easy. then that could matter more broadly in the region. that's how i see it. >> it's going to really matter, too, the matter between israel and egypt. and what effort government comes to the floor now is going to be under a lot more pressure to reduce egypt's cooperation with israel. >> absolutely. there is no question about that. >> if you had another palestinian intifada or another israeli attack on southern lebanon or gaza, there's going to be massive crowds in the
12:08 am
streets of cairo probably to break relations. i don't think they are going to do that or the military wants to go back to war, that everybody talks about a piece already between egypt and israel. it's really going to get cold. i can see scenarios that really make a very difficult for us to deal with in the difficult for israel to deal with and very difficult for every government in power to deal with because they are going to be under enormous popular political culture to do something. already, it has for sabotages of the gas line going to egypt. another 12 weeks ago. i think that geslin is finished. >> to sabotage it? >> kuwait >> we don't know. actually, if i may suggest, and i am not a political scientist,
12:09 am
you know, israel is also not an unchanging, and israel will be be heating and doing things differently presumably, too, as things are done
12:10 am
in parts of europe of enormous importance. thank you all for being here. we appreciate it. you ask very good questions, and good luck. have a great summer recess when and if it comes. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
12:11 am
12:12 am
next, a hearing on the government response to storms and floods across the south and midwest. witnesses include the deputy administrator of the federal emergency management agency and emergency management officials from arkansas and mississippi. this is a little more than an hour and a half. >> we will go ahead and call hours of committee to order here. i want to thank our colleagues who are either here or who are
12:13 am
on their way because apparently we have many that are on their way. we are just finishing the various lunches, so sounds like we have several people heading over here. but i would like to do is go ahead and thank all of you for being here today. i know that this is a very busy time for everyone and i appreciate you coming to washington or at least coming down here spending your day with us. i definitely would like to say that we are here to assess the progress being made in recovering from the devastating tornado, storms and floods. we will also discuss how to pick up the pieces from the recent disasters and build back better. the panelists we have convened today represent some of the states and communities that were the hardest hit by these event scirica i would like to start by thanking them for taking the time to be here, and you all have been -- have had your hands
12:14 am
full as i've said in have had tough work to do and we appreciate your public service, your expertise, and all the things you are doing for your home state and also for the nation. today's witnesses will provide us with a better understanding of the disastrous impact on communities and economies. we hope to get a better understanding of the collaboration and communication across all levels of government and the private-sector and to get insight into how individuals and businesses are picking themselves back up and restoring their communities. this was an especially tough spring for my state of arkansas, as it has been for many others, and the fight isn't over yet. there are currently in our state to active disasters with 60 of the states, 75 counties eligible for federal assistance, beginning in april historic flooding effect -- affected over a thousand homes and completely destroyed 140. 19 people were killed, and many
12:15 am
are still homeless. before my constituents got the chance to sense the full scope of the damage a series of devastating tornadoes tore through the arkansas counties killing eight people, damaging
12:16 am
12:17 am
testing i want to thank all of my colleagues for being here today, and i'd like to turn it over to senator paul if you have an opening statement. >> thank you, the afternoon i would like to thank all of you for coming today and chairman prior i have great sympathy and condolences for those in the horrible disaster. our state has also been hit by storms to not such a great extent that we've had some recently in flooding in kentuckians have had a declaration of disaster. in today's hearings i think it's important to learn the lesson from these recent storms. one of the lessons i think may be that we get involved in so many routine storms maybe we don't have enough money when we
12:18 am
have a truly catastrophic storms. i think that may be one of the lessons of katrina. like senator pryor, i think there have been increasing numbers of declarations of disaster, and it's kind of hard to be against declaring a disaster so we always declared disaster, and i think there is not every disaster is created equally there are disasters like what happened in joplin and other disasters people need help with the question is can the federal government keep doing it and have enough money to keep supplying endless amounts of money to fema. the president has requested 46 trillion worth of spending unfortunately we don't have 46 trillion that will add the 11 trillion to in our debt so we have to make difficult choices and even when people are in need we have to decide can we take
12:19 am
care of every natural occurrence that goes on or should we be reserving the federal government involvement for the catastrophic times when communities are wiped out and need help like katrina and joplin's case but i look forward to learning more from the panel. >> thank you, senator paul. let me say for my colleagues here let's go ahead and go to the panel and let them get their opening statements. and what i'd like to do is each one of these panelists if possible the witnesses take five minutes or less on your opening statement and again i want to thank all of you for being here and do a brief introduction we have one panelist i believe mr. o'brien who needs to catch a flight at some point maybe before the hearing ends, so we will try to direct early questions to you if that's possible but what i'd like to do is go ahead and introduce all
12:20 am
five together and then start with you. the honorable richard sorvino is deputy administrator at fema. he will discuss the role in assisting state and local governments and recovery efforts. next is the federal co-chairman of the regional authority which operates in the area we will talk about. next is david maxwell of the arkansas department of emergency management. we call it adem in our state. you've been here many times and we thank you for being back next is the director of the mississippi emergency management agency and you've had your hands full. thank you for being here. the fifth witness is mr. o'brien, the president of the area chamber of commerce, and we have been pulling for you in your community very strongly so we have a timing system if you could keep an eye on that
12:21 am
and you're opening statement to five minutes each the would be great. >> thank you, chairman pryor, ranking member paul, it's a pleasure to be here today representing fema and to discuss the response and recovery efforts during the recent storms. as i mentioned, i have the opportunity to be in many of these disaster areas shortly after the happen, sometimes within hours. in georgia when the tornadoes went through the next day in mississippi spent time with mike looking at the areas back in d.c. and alabama both in her role as well as tuscaloosa. and unfortunately on the ground in joplin within literally hours the tornado went through joplin and most recently a couple weeks ago up in north dakota with the floods happening there and through that period, one of the things we've been able to see is not only fema's response to the
12:22 am
community response that we've seen throughout the area. the work that's been done by the people on the ground both days and mike and the people they work for as well as the governors and the mayors and first responders, police officers, firefighters, emt have saved lives and that's one of the most important things, the work they've done on the ground has saved lives and the mitigation efforts in north dakota is the levees made temporary lifting levees and the fire they put out with 5,000 structures literally under water. and 4,000 homes under water. no lives were lost. and that's important to note that the work that people do, this example no lives were lost in the mitigation efforts. the whole community as the administrator said time and time again is not just the government, not just fema or the
12:23 am
federal or state government or local government, the tribes, but also the nonprofit organizations. its bringing together the face based communities. i will have examples i will touch on leader but also the private sector, the great work the private sector has done during these disasters that have struck and probably the most important part of the team is the public and what they've been able to do. this is not something fema is the lead on. somebody asked me a question i think in joplin. if you're purchased fema, we wouldn't be able to. it is about bringing the team together. the folks i mentioned example after example. in joplin for example, looking at the face of these communities, the southern baptists were cooking food to be distributed in a red cross shelter delivered by red cross people in the salvation army shelters to help feed thousands
12:24 am
and thousands of people, things as the government is working together as part of the team is important to bring together all members of the team. i look forward to answering questions as we go forward and in the interest of time i will stop there. >> i see we've been joined by senator boozman. we don't like to ask -- would like to ask him to have a seat up here if you'd like but thank you for joining mr. massengill. >> thank you, senator pryor and members of the committee, my fellow panelists, again for the opportunity to be with you today and share a different perspective of my role as the federal co-chair of the regional authority which comprises eight states, 252 counties in paris and approximately 10 million people in the region. during the month of april the mississippi river basin received 600% of its annual rainfall and a three week period. this unprecedented amount of rain would lead to a flood of
12:25 am
proportions along the mississippi river and tested living systems that protect millions of families in the delta has never before. in late april and early may the governors of the states along the river declared states of emergency to prepare for the flood and they began making preparations to protect their lives, homes and properties as best they could. over the next two weeks the mississippi river rose to levels unseen since the 1927 flood. and in many locations, surprising levels by several feet. the high water forced the army corps of engineers to make a difficult decision to breach the levied system at the point in misery and a leader opening of the spillway in louisiana. throughout the ordeal the corps of engineers and the districts worked tirelessly to maintain any issues that arose. throughout their diligence and hard work the systems work was designed and no failures of mainline leaguers occurred. unfortunately along many
12:26 am
contributories of the mississippi didn't fare as well. deutsch to the quantities of the water flowing down the channel as well as the rainfall across the region many of the lakes and streams that feed into the channel or unable to train and left the banks to overtop or break the levees designed to contain them back where flooding that resulted was the cause of the majority of the damage to many of the state's wiley number of our member states was struck by a devastating tornadoes for which they offered to support assistance, the majority of the damage in the territory caused by the storms manifested itself in the flooding i just mentioned focused on that event. the involvement throughout the disaster intended to maintain to a communication of local states and federal partners to the fullest extent possible through
12:27 am
the federal and local partners and in the course of maintaining these communications did develop and here collective sums unique challenges feedback i'd like to share. the agricultural production is a serious challenge facing the region. the mississippi delta resulted in the flooding of large percentages of the land producers and others in the related industries are facing significant economic burdens. the efficiency of the response of the public outreach sessions across the region by fema and sba or intended and received. there were numbers of avenues used to access those that had been flooded to ensure there was a sign up for programs and aware of the assistance which they were qualified. the representatives are still maintaining stations at home improvement with hardware stores
12:28 am
across the region in assisting with disaster filing process these created it received from the murders entities across the region however the local opinions seem to feel the federal responses for managed but there are areas of concerns and the few things complain side like to express. one, the first on the government contracting process with so many displaced workers in the region the residents were displaced and pleased to see contracts awarded by fema outside the disaster affected state or understood the urgency of the response fema having pre-initiative projects we would like to see the recovery phase of the eve ensler allowed for more local participation like the local planning development districts. the dra has heard suggestions the group might adopt additional process east to set up the response by need not necessarily agency. when the family is extend questions about housing the answer is we are often sufficient but somewhat
12:29 am
incomplete and the answer not be determined by which government agency like the u.s. dea or ngo like to read cross first. comprehensive coordination between the government organization during a time never elephant would allow us to do a better job. the dra would help with that. third states have noticed the rapid pace with jim deciduous systems were granted wasn't matched by the equal rapid public response. we recognize while housing needs addressed through individual systems are important public assistance programs designed to help counties, states and nonprofits repair the infrastructure are particularly important to the mississippi delta region. finally, the dra herd information concerning the mitigation activities undertaken by private residences and businesses. under fema guidelines business is flat or eligible through
12:30 am
assistance funding to prevent damage equipment and furniture, relocate livestock etc despite the fact the precautions presented more claims for federal disaster the mitigation activities are n
12:31 am
the disaster management
12:32 am
institute. this program works with businesses to improve the disaster preparedness, and of communication with business industries before, during and after defense rapidly develop sound economic impact estimates which we are dealing with now in this disaster. to remake business assistance help coordinate response efforts and post disaster economic recovery.
12:33 am
12:34 am
we have several examples of the state homeland security or homeland security grant program purchase equipment purchases if that assisted both with search and rescue certainly in arkansas within our operable communications none of which would have been available to us without those grants. continuing to utilize the emergency management assistance contact has assisted the states to bring in other states and local entities to assist with our equipment and other resources rather than asking fema to provide those. so i think those are three very important programs that are out there. of course today we are trying to look at the mitigation as much as possible. a few examples from arkansas. we found in our tornadoes that a number of citizens had safe
12:35 am
rooms that we know save lives and arkansas puts 1.2 million every year state money into offsetting the cost for a thousand dollars or half the cost of the safe room which ever is least and within ten days after the start of the state fiscal year, we have already expended all that money. so we know people are building safe rooms. the school district was awarded a fema litigation brandt $4 million to build a safe room for their high school very important. and the other part is west memphis arkansas several years ago had bought out 18 rick petaflops structures -- loss structures that did not float this year because they no longer exist. west memphis is talking about continuing that program and by
12:36 am
paying out additional properties and while i have just another minute, i will say that from our standpoint, our relationships with fema and the other parts of the federal family core certainly was very seamless in these disasters. the regencies had a liaison in our emergency operations center from almost a day one, and we had the jfo up and running very quickly and money on the streets jury quickly. and in the last disaster although it took quite a while to get the declaration, we got it on a friday evening and by monday we already had individual assistance out on the street. so i think that's important to note. with that, mr. chairman i will be happy to take questions at the proper time.
12:37 am
>> thank you. is it with steve to mr. womack? >> usually i say womack but that works. >> thank you. good afternoon, chairman pryor and ranking member paul and distinguished members of the committee. i've been a senior employees to the mississippi management agency since 2002 and have a desert progression of my state's ability to respond to large-scale events as well as the development of the federal government response capability. as you are aware the state of mississippi was greatly impacted by tornadoes, severe storms and flooding that occurred in april and mississippi river flooding that occurred in may. mississippi received to federal disaster declarations and emergency declaration for those even this treat nearly 11,500 households requested assistance from fema and more than 2,750 families receive housing assistance and more than 300 homes were deemed destroyed by fema and individual inspections. individual assistance grants for
12:38 am
disasters totaled more than $19 million. i will briefly summarize the response to these events and primarily my focus on how mississippi has and continues to reduce property damage and reduce the risk of the life of our citizens. first i totally agree with mr. maxwell that the homeland security grant program and the emergency management performance grant program over its past ten years has made the nation a much stronger and safer place. i echo exactly what he said. the response was handled by state and local, a lot of mutual aid on the state level and some on the interstate level. but we have a very capable first responders and they were trained and exercise and equipped somewhat by these homeland security emergency management grande on this yet as we get into the discussion of what the nation can afford, i would simply say that in my opinion the money we spend over the last ten years has been effectively
12:39 am
used for the most part. second thing i would like to focus on is the work of fema during the recent response. i thought it was exceptional. due to the devastation in the state of alabama and on going disasters in tennessee, georgia, north carolina, fema from the pacific northwest led the group and strong leadership was provided by the federal coordinating officer from the region for or a region in the southeast. the coordination between the key federal agencies, fema, army corps of engineers, national weather service and the u.s. geological survey was also an outstanding. as far as the recovery is concerned, overall the was during good. i do feel there are some areas that need improvement. the individual assistance preliminary damage assessment process was swift and efficient and showed great flexibility by the fema staff. a home inspection individual assistance grant disbursement process for the vast majority of
12:40 am
the disaster survivors was excellent as well. however, an area that can be improved is coordination between individual assistance that has a mitigation grant program and the national flood insurance program substantial estimation program. an average -- i trustees to the fema leadership reset to the concerns i have and other states have and i will follow on those with the leadership. in the last ten years mississippi has received 21 federal disaster declarations including hurricane katrina. thanks to the leadership of governor barbour and great elected officials swiftly rebuilt devastated areas both better and safer. we in mississippi have learned the importance of using the mitigation grant program funds to help prepare residents for the potential impact future storms and disasters may have on their lives. after hurricane katrina the governor barbara established the following priorities and funding levels for the mitigation projects resulting from the disaster. funding level flecha we did as the jurisdictions established a
12:41 am
critical need and submitted applications based on those needs. hazard mitigation planning, retrofit critical facilities, acquisition of flood damage structures, upgrades of code and standards, group and individual shoulders to include safe rooms. generators for critical facilities and in the coastal wind rich procrit for the residential structures. all these programs have been tremendously effective in the state of mississippi. we have examples of how the safe room program has actually saved lives, not just in this set of severe storms and tornadoes but others. i have specific examples in my testimony that speak to this. while the use of the funds were a major source of the state's mitigation efforts, allocations of other federal grant funds tied to the stronger standard as well is increased adoption of codes have also made a mississippi state and more resilient. many jurisdictions have adopted
12:42 am
international building code standards, some because was tied to federal funding and some of the new was the right thing to do. as i have previously stated, mississippi has seen many disasters in the last decade. some catastrophic ogle local level and one catastrophic to the state, region and nation. we are proud to say that we've used our resources and those provided by the nation to rebuild by using proven mitigation and stringent code measure to build a safer and more resilient state. thank you. >> thank you. mr. o'brien. >> thank you. good afternoon, chairman pryor, ranking member paltry thank you for the opportunity to be with you this afternoon and talk about the may 22nd tornado, its impact, and our response particularly regarding the business sector. regardless the level of devastation you may have seen on the news, the reality is frankly
12:43 am
much worse. the tornado to date has claimed 159 lives, that makes it the worst tornado in terms of fatalities in more than six decades, and the eighth worst in u.s. history. the storm which had the winds close to 300 miles per hour in some locations, carved have nearly 8 miles long and averaging three-quarters of a mile wide through joplin and the village of duquesne. more than 4,000 housing units were destroyed or damaged beyond repair. 9,000 people as a consequence are displaced for the long term. also in the path for hundreds of businesses. more than 450 in the direct path were destroyed or damaged beyond repair. that's approximately 20% of all of the businesses in the two communities. one of the largest employers, st. john's medical center along with several big stocks retailers and mom-and-pop operations were destroyed.
12:44 am
collectively around 5,000 people worked at those firms. while that is a blow to the residence, we also know that it's important to make sure that our businesses are back in place and providing jobs as quickly as possible. as a bit of background our chamber of commerce is the leading economic development entity for the region. as part of our development efforts, we also operate a business division center in the adjoining building which became an important asset in our response. by the end of the day monday following the tornado, we had arranged for additional volunteer staff to answer the hundreds of calls and lock-ins' the we were getting. that allow our staff to be in the devastated area checking on all businesses. without landmarks or street signs, our team used maps and often just memory to find business locations. often at these locations, we found the owners for senior management in the debris.
12:45 am
weigel there we could help assess the situation, and as we learn more about these businesses, we continually updated information to hand back to them to make sure they were current on the resources available to them. in addition to the team on the streets, we also had a staff calling or taxing business owners not found on site. of the 450 firms, our staff had personally communicated with 420 of them by the end of the third week. by the end of week for, we also talked with every other 800 chamber members a total of more than 1200 contacts in that first month. also on the monday after the tornado we were contacted by the sba, business recovery team. we already arranged for the counselors from the small business development center in the southern state university to be at the innovation center to assist businesses. we invited the sba team to locate there as well. by thursday, the business
12:46 am
recovery center was in full operation. we'll understand the sba business recovery team does not often locate with chambers or is dpc. it's worked well for us and our businesses and an approach we would highly recommend. we were also contacted by the private sector
12:47 am
12:48 am
>> he wouldn't cover to rebuild basically? a.m., is there a mechanism for checking whether they get government assistance from another plan like a view of god flooding and you have agricultural systems versus
12:49 am
fema? >> what we do as we aggregate the information that comes into our national processing center and we go back and look at rings that they have to see what else they may qualify for if they don't have that, they don't qualify for any theme alone and make sure they're not getting double dipping if you will but also to make sure there are other things that may be available. >> the gao reported in 2006 there was a billion dollars worth of improper payments. has that been addressed? who were those given to? i remember reading about prisoners in baton rouge being displaced to prison. that was probably one of the most egregious ones i heard but where were most of those payments to end what has been done to make that better? >> over the last nine or 10 years what we have done is put a lot of controls in place after the gao report and actually look at what our error rate was. are error rate than was actually 10%. a lot of the controls we have put in place through a national
12:50 am
processing center working with a number of folks within fema and outside of fema we have actually gotten our error rate down to 2.3%. >> some people have reported bad part of our problem, you know we have a shortage of money up here in part of our problem within fema is that we have a lot more disasters declared then we used to have. i think under reagan there were 28 and under the first bush, 44. it went up to 130 under bush and now we were up to 140 and i think we are already at 137 this year and we haven't hit hurricane season yet. i guess some of the concern is that we are declaring everything a disaster and some of it should we you know maybe taking care of that the state state level and not considered to be catastrophic and save our resources for things like katrina and rita and joplin in tuscaloosa. i mean those were definitely disasters. but it is hard.
12:51 am
is hard to say no so i think everybody keeps saying yes. is there any direction towards trying to control the numbers? are we going to have to wonder disasters? i think the president's plan takes us from 11 billion to 30 billion over the next 10 years. we just don't have the money to keep doubling and tripling programs. is there any kind of plan in place to limited and direct our resources better? >> kirtley number of things we are doing. first off we have had record-setting weather in this county. for example tornadoes have been the highest number. mississippi and the missouri river at record high flood stage is so we are seeing a number of disasters in the large numbers mainly because of some of the shifts in the weather patterns and also seeing what we have been able to, what we have seen for disasters over -- with and certainly the past year. we have been very busy but at the same time we have also been going back and looking at some of our previous disasters that we have had in seeing how we can look at different honey that we
12:52 am
continue to obligate from previous disasters so we are able to free up some dollars into that so we are actually able to meet and take care of some of the issues with the current disasters. as we continue to move forward we certainly do look at disasters. we actually follow with what the law states and the staff and what actually we can and cannot and certain disasters. >> i have one final quick question. in consecutive complaint i've heard is that it seems like the money has been dispensed and my understanding it goes to the state and then the states dispenses a beginner makes further decisions that they seem to think the money is locked up in our state state capitol somehow. do you keep tabs on the money once he gets to the states are you pretty much done with the process? >> usually when it goes to the states the state is the responsible party but we work with the states and the locals as well to try to ensure that the money goes through to continue on to where it is distributed to. >> thank you.
12:53 am
>> senator blanche. >> thank you mr. chairman. thanks for holding this hearing. we have probably had as many disasters in missouri this year as in any gear that anybody is aware of. we had a spring flood and the mississippi that mr. masingill mentioned and still challenges there because of that. poplar bluff flooded in the missouri river looks like it will be an flood stage through the entire state through the iowa border to st. louis for all of august and then a number of tornadoes including one that hit the st. louis airport and the area around that. and the tornado that mr. o'brian describes so well. so we have had lots of fema experience and flooding and in branson and with with the lake there are lots of problems. i think we have tried to deal with those the best way we could bet i know you have got to leave
12:54 am
and mr. o'brian you have to leave at 3:30 or so. 4:00, good. we have a second round of questions them and i'm glad to have that. just to start with mr. o'brian, you have been in the middle of this every day now since late may. to you have any recommendations that fema and the private sector could individually or collectively improve what we do to respond to these disasters? >> well, we have dealt most specifically with the her side of fema as mentioned, working on business recovery. and fema does not have the dollars for businesses, but they do have resources. what i would say senator is while they have been great partners in this, there is perhaps an issue of speed in response. i noted one which i think is a
12:55 am
very good example, of them working with a national partner as we sat down and talk. talked. we talked about laptops for small businesses. they brought back national partner in early in the second week, and then, said we can expand this to the schools as well which is terrific. the issue in that is probably in those first two weeks is when we had a number of businesses who really needed laptops because their computer systems were in the wreckage at some point in time. so here we are at coming up on the two-month mark, and these laptops are just beginning to arrive. so, i think some of that could he addressed and i know every disaster is different. every situation is different, but i think on the private sector side of fema, if they could work with those national and regional partners, and
12:56 am
define upfront what the resources are or at least basic resources are, and make those available in a much more rapid fashion is good benefit the business sector tremendously. >> of the business you talk about that are damaged or out of business that are trying to recover, do any of them -- is there any private-sector -- i'm not sure what the responses to the florist shop that almost exclusively dealt with the hospital that is now essentially not there. is there a disruption of business? is there really any way that a business can plan for this kind of thing and have you got some stories of businesses that have faced challenges that are different than you would expect? >> well, i think there would be certainly all kinds of stories
12:57 am
out there, senator in terms of how businesses have responded. i think a key, just in general, that we have found many businesses were not adequately prepared for was the loss of information. we are so computer-driven in this age that unless the records are adequately backed up and preferably off-site, we have businesses that lost their records. then, and looking to the spa for a loan, they had to retrieve some of those records and then they found out that their account and was gone and oftentimes it was difficult to retrieve those records. we did have good support from the small business and technology and development center counselors and from the secretary of state's office and others to help retrieve those records but that was probably one of the unifying things with many of the business is. >> you know just as an aside to that point, the 2500 employee hospital that really is a thing
12:58 am
going to have to be totally rebuilt and maybe we will even choose to relocate some rust in the community, they had just backed up all of their health records at the end of the preceding month, said they were 22 days away from having completed the project so that everybody who had health records at that hospital still has them but they were that close to not having them and that is an interesting point. people lose records. their accountants lost records as well and as a matter fact maybe if you haven't lost your business your accountant may have been lost so backing up an access. thank you chairman. >> thank you senator bob one. senator cochran we are thrilled to have the two-day. >> mr. chairman thank you very much for inviting us to join you and participate in this hearing. i appreciate the opportunity of working with you in the senate. i look forward to joining forces with you and trying to help make
12:59 am
sure we do everything we can here on the federal level to help restore these communities that have been so heavily damaged and to continue plans for protecting this region that is so important, economically in terms of people who reside in the region from disasters such as we have seen recently. it is good to see mike again. every time i look up i know we have an accident or something bad has happened. he is there and i don't know what we would do without him. haley barbour relies on him very closely and called on them regularly for his leadership and management skills. i am glad you were here to provide some insight. you know this recent flooding was something that confirms the fact that the mississippi river is huge and we have invested a lot of money in protecting the
1:00 am
adjoining landowners and people who live in the region from flooding. the end i don't want this to sound like a joke but it looks like we may have overdone it and that all the water now in this recent flood a sickly state in the mississippi river. the damages that were caused were backwater flooding, small streams, tributaries, that lead into the mississippi river but the prevention of main stem flooding kept the water within its banks of this historic, huge, terrible flood. do you have any comments to make about bad and that and whether or not we have to go back to the drawing board and see what else we need to do now? the senator, don't think the system is broke in but it certainly needs a few modifications. there are flood control structures on the yazoo basin
1:01 am
but they did not protect all of the basin and there is no palms that pump the water out that collects behind those structures. it is not just mississippi that has this problem. other states have it as well. much of their flooding was where the mississippi backed up by the rivers. so i think we do need to continue to look at what we could do to further protect those smaller streams such as the yazoo river and the tributaries because you are right. a lot of the flooding did not occur on the mainline mississippi but on the smaller rivers that do have some limited flood control structures but not enough to fully protect the citizens. >> thank you. thank you mr. chairman or having the hearing and inviting us to participate. >> thank you for being here. senator mccaskill. >> thank you mr. chairman. i'd thank you over being here and a senator blunt said we have
1:02 am
had a rough year here in this very. he imbibe both share the opinion that we are blessed. man oh man has a been a rough year. i am interested to find out from you mr. o'brian, whether you think that what fema provided in terms of really hooking you up so there is no direct dollars to fema for businesses but hooking you up with other resources that fema was aware of. did it feel more like a scavenger hunt or was there a menu of available resources that you could draw upon immediately in the days after the disaster? >> senator, thank you. and that is a follow-on to a response to senator blunt. we believe that there are a number of resources out there in the fema private-sector side. part of the problem for business and for us is advocates for
1:03 am
business is that we really don't know what those are. and i think the best example of that is, when you think about our community, when you think about the residents of the community and the businesses and business owners in the community there is a period of time in there where everyone is essentially in shock. everyone is working very hard to recover, but it is so overwhelming and there is so much information overload, that goes on, that when we go to a business we found very early on when we would get to a business and say what do you need? they would just. >> shrugged. >> yeah. they did not know exactly what they needed or they would say i don't know -- need anything. go help someone else which is very typical in our community. once you put something forward and say here are some examples of resources we have available, then that started the thought process for them, and even if they did not need those resources at least they were able to tell us more
1:04 am
definitively what it was that they felt they needed at that point in time. i think this is some of the issue again that we have with the private sector support with fema is that we know that they have wonderful resources they are, and they are team keeps asking us what do you need? we are much in the same position. we are not sure what our businesses need. >> so you are saying what if have you got? >> we are saying what do you have? let's see a list. i think one of the things they have tried to do is be in a position to be creative again because every disaster is different. and be able to bring some different resources to the table. but i think there is also commonality and even a basic shopping list if you will of resources even if they don't necessarily for confidentiality stake in the first pass want to divulge who their regional and national partners are, if they
1:05 am
can say we can get you laptops, we can get you a structural engineer to come look at your building. we can get you -- and just have a list of examples. that begins the process then i think for us and our businesses to respond. >> it is one of those, which comes first the chicken or the egg? i am sure from fema's perspective if you go out and put on a list that we have three laptops a lot of people are going to ask her laptops who do not lead -- need laptops. so i think there is probably, but i think you are right, there was a way that maybe we can work on a list like do you need business equipment? do you need engineering consulting? do you need somebody to -- legal help? whatever, and because i know one of the problems we had is a great problem to have, but candidly when i was down there right afterwards and then when i was down there the next time,
1:06 am
there were so many people wanting to help that you know i was offered like 14 bottles of water within five minutes of when i write in joplin because people were stopping on the streets and wanting to do something. i think a lot of the money and resources that flow in, and that is one of the questions i have for you. i know you have started this, the business recovery fund and joplin tomorrow fund and we just got a grant that senator blunt and i were able to announce from commerce that will help fund a regional and local coordinator for the business recovery effort, but i'm a little worried about all the money flowing in to help and is it getting to the right place, and is gives it accessible by the business community or are there charities that have popped up saying that we are taking the systems for joplin that maybe isn't getting to joplin? do you see a problem there that we need to be aware of that we could help with? >> first, thank you both
1:07 am
senators for your support on those grants. we appreciate that. senator, i would say that whether it is joplin or cape girardeau or smithville mississippi or anyplace, there is always concerned about the response, especially with dollars and are the dollars going to the right place? we know there are are some strong national organizations that provide immediate response such as red cross that can be very beneficial. what what we did in our community and actually it was a group that was working with the schools on a web site to encourage connections between the faith-based communities, social services and the business community says -- to support the school was to reroute that web site with dialogue and the dialogue amongst these entities said for the long-term, there
1:08 am
are about six funds that we can all get behind. and his people would call we have really tried to direct them to those six funds on a web site rebuild, along with the whole list of what people need and what people have to give us a way of coordinating that effort. but i think it is, to your question, very important and probably early in the process to make sure that our communities think about the long-term and think about the entities that they have or that they may need to create such as these foundations in order to bring dollars in and essentially have them in the bank for the future because people talk about returning to the status quo as fema, insurance, my bank will get me through the status quo. the reality is there is no longer a status quo. >> right. right. i think it is terrific. i am proud of the joplin
1:09 am
community is the way you did this and is always the best solutions are the solutions done on a local level rather than from washington. i don't think anybody in joplin would argue that fema was very very important to the joplin community and the federal agencies and the state agencies that came and to help it for the long-haul i am glad the solutions are being crafted at the local level and thank you for being here and hopefully we will have time for further questions. i would love to get into the first point. >> thank you. livni go ahead anastos one question this round and then we will go to the second round. one of the things that made me proud of my state was we had lots of folks from the corridor of springdale rogers, bentonville, à la vista not hold corridor that went to joplin to try to help. they probably were the folks handing you water because they just wanted to do something. it was a neighbor in need and they didn't know what to do and
1:10 am
sometimes it is organized by churches and sometimes spontaneous by folks on their own. we went up there to help and we appreciate your help. we had our troubles and i know that mr. maxwell and mr. masingill can testify to that. let me ask you a question if i can take a broader view here. i hear stories and read stories in the paper of the disaster relief fund may be running out of money and i'm curious to know if it is running out of money, what you anticipate for the rest of us the school year and what we are going to do in the event that it does run out of money? >> currently we have $1.24 billion in the area currently and we have been able to actually keep that somewhat stabilized over the last few weeks, few months actually. i was talking earlier about how we need to go back and look at the number of previous disasters. by doing that we are able to
1:11 am
keep it somewhat level. is going down a little obviously with the disasters we have been talking about across the country. right now, we are on pace. we look to when we may or may not get below a billion dollars. the way we are projecting it sometime between now and sometime in early august. >> so what do you do come early august or what arrangements do you have to make? do you have to come back to congress? >> if necessary we could but right now we look at something in the past called immediate needs funding which we did last year and i'm sure both david and mike are familiar with. if necessary we could do that in that leaves the money in place for lifesaving issues. if something were to happen we would have the money to do that and we would put on hold funding some of the other long-term projects that may be in place, construction of public buildings, longer-term some
1:12 am
roads that have longer-term down the line. it may put a hold on that until a new budget comes through. so that is what -- we have done that in the past and we had to do that last year. if necessary we may go to that again this year. >> we had a situation in our state where we had two counties that we thought should easily have qualified for disaster assistance but they didn't and we had to go through a new process. i had to ask a few times during that field process which i guess is a couple of weeks, i got asked a couple of times about whether fema was not doing that because they were afraid they might run out of money. is that a factor in your consideration? >> not at all. that doesn't enter into it at all how much money is currently in the fund as to whether state or county gets qualified. that doesn't enter into the equation for us at all.
1:13 am
>> we will go to our second round, senator blunt. >> it happens that both joplin and st. louis art both served by for-profit utility companies. mr. womack i don't know if you are in this position during katrina or not but we waved a provision for mississippi at least and katrina so any utility company that had replacement costs because of the disaster qualified for the same level of fema assistance. and my point on this always is, which was governor barbour mack explained at the well, everybody who is served by this particular company pays taxes just like the person who pays federal taxes that has a municipal utility or an associate co-op utility, who automatically qualifies for
1:14 am
reimbursement but like the city of joplin mr. o'brian is all served eye empire electric. i don't know few if you have had discussions about this or not. i suspect you have. what do you see as the long-term impact on utilities and a community that their utility provider doesn't automatically, isn't allowed frankly. we would have to change a lot to allow it, isn't allowed to participate in the cost share for disaster recovery? >> senator i think you have raised a good point with that. in the mississippi experience, our electric utility is empire and locally headquartered and serves approximately 10,000 square miles in four states. most of that in southwest missouri. and, certainly year in and year out they do anticipate that there will be some level of
1:15 am
damage in storms. what they don't necessarily anticipate is any ef5 tornado that comes from 14 miles of their service area including some of the most densely populated part of that, and their estimate in terms of the damage done is today somewhere around 25 million. it could go higher as they continue on that. and, what that means for our community and frankly for our surrounding neighbors who are served by empire is, since they do not fit in to the qualifications act, is that eventually there will have to be a rate increase on that. and that is the only means that they have to recover those dollars. and i think the element of fat that when we think about the long-term is, when you have a community like joplin or any other community that is served
1:16 am
by investor owned utilities that have had catastrophic disasters, you want them to recover and you want them to recover as quickly as they can. and if you place utilities in a position just because they are investor owned utilities, where they eventually have to raise their rates to recoup that, essentially what you are doing is making it harder for the residents and making it harder for the businesses that are still in operation and you make it more difficult to attract new business investment in the community. so instead of inventing recover you have didn't -- distance and the recovery by not allowing them to take part in that funding. >> mr. womack t. remember the situation i came up? >> i do but it was not manage through my agency. it was not the stanford act funding. as you said it was required a special act to allow the tax dollars to be able to help the
1:17 am
for-profit utilities. so i don't have the details on it but i do know that he was an effort to try to make sure that their rates for the two big providers in mississippi and your g. and mississippi power. of course entergy was heavily invested in louisiana as well. i don't know the details on it. >> mr. maxwell have you had any experience with this kind of thing? >> we have not. >> mr. serino i'm going to continue to work on this and in mr. chairman i would love to talk to you about it and senator mccaskill and i have been talking about it. you know, if this community would have happened to have had a municipal provider, let's say they paid 10% under the stafford act of the repair. they would be passing along 2.5 million to the ratepayers instead of 25 million, or if they have got a 75/25 share they would be passing along 6 million
1:18 am
to the ratepayers instead of 25 million. those ratepayers pay federal taxes in exactly the same way that neighboring community of cartilage who has a municipal utility pays taxes. we have been frankly more experienced with devastating ice storms. we would have miles and miles of polls broken off and the mileage that is in the electric co-op federal taxpayers come in and say we are going to help you keep your future rates low for if it is in a municipal utility they say we are going to help you keep your future rates low but if it happens to be in a for-profit we say you are going to go to the psc or whatever you call the commission in any state and you are going to ask them and they are going to tell you yes, we may not give you exactly what timeframe but i think inevitably they let you pass this cost along. to the taxpayer, the ratepayer who just happens to be served by a different kind of utility and
1:19 am
i think it is one of the great inequities in the way we look at this particular problem. i just hope you will think about it with me too and i know it is not something you can do right now. but i do think it is an area in the stafford act where we really could bring greater equity to people, neighbors who have suffered the same kind of calamity. one of them at the end of the day winds up in their business or maybe their business in their home with a much higher utility rate than the other one did just because of who provides their utility to them. and it is not the for-profit absorbs fat loss. for-profit goes to the public service entity whatever it is and they inevitably say, sure you can pass those costs along to as s. mr. o'brian pointed out all of your, everybody that happens to be served by your utility. in this case, joplin is a big
1:20 am
part of what that utility does as a provider. >> thank you. senator cochran, before you ask i want to thank you and senator landrieu for assigning my fema recoupment. >> i have no other questions mr. chairman. >> senator mccaskill. >> thank you and i want to second senator blunt's. what is worrisome to me and i notice to noticed you mr. o'brian is if empire goes to psc and psc says yes you can pass it along to your ratepayer, what does that do for your business recovery if somebody is making up their mind whether they want to come to joplin or stan joplin and looking at a huge investment if they know at the end of that investment to rebuild and joplin or to come to joplin, i don't think a lot of people realize that joplin is a for that entire region even
1:21 am
though the population of joplin, the people who lay their head down at night may be around 50,000 people. there are over 200,000 people that travel to joplin for school and for work and for shopping and what would that do to that mac a status if your utility rates were two or three times higher than surrounding communities which you could envision happening with this. so we will continue to work on this and hopefully make some progress on it. i want to ask about housing. i know that you have got 1500 people that are still on the list for housing in joplin and i know that you all have done so much in missouri as to the disasters. can you update the committee on the efforts for the 1500 that are still on the waiting list for housing and what are the
1:22 am
hangups. two months is a long time and what do we need to do to make sure we cleared that waiting lists? >> one of the things we are doing is working as a state-led housing task force. one thing we don't want to do is come in and say dema -- working with the community and with the state to see what their needs are and then what we can provide. we don't want to come in and say you need x. lindsay. we want to make sure we are meeting their needs. one of the first things we do is look for rental assistance with what is available to rent throughout the area. unfortunately, as you just said, joplin is sort of the hub and a lot of people, there is a lot of rental assistance are homes to buy in the area even prior to this happening so i think that is one of the challenges. on top of that, just seeing what's available throughout the area. one of the things that we looked at was the expedited debris removal we have been doing and i think that is helpless to actually one of the first things we do aside from rental housing
1:23 am
were the short term is also look at trying to put people back on their own properties where they are at and look to do that, getting the debris removal to help us to look at that. also working with the leaders in joplin and the state is also looking to see what else they need in the area. we have had a federal court mating officer down in joplin working with them to determine what is the best way and having working with people to look at some of the best offers that would suit them and we have been working through a lot of those now. >> what is the prospect of the 1500 people? i know that rumor was that the chairman had a lot of trailers in arkansas, and joplin is not that far away. >> actually i will get the exact numbers of the housing units that we actually have in joplin now and mississippi there are 117 temporary housing units there now looking to actually bring some more to the area as
1:24 am
necessary but we are bringing them in at the request of the state and the request of the city. >> should i talk to the state? >> the task force has been working together to get through the solutions that we want to get through together. we don't want to say we want to bring in 1500 trailers when that is not what they want. >> okay. i just want to make sure. >> we will be working on that. >> senator i might add we have plenty of rental property in benton county. >> now, be careful. be careful. we don't want to turn any of these people into fans. we want them to stay up on our side of the line so we have got to be a little careful about having them come down to arkansas. let me ask you mr. masingill about the delta regional authority and first we are working hard the entire delegation has been united on all of these issues and we are particularly united about
1:25 am
getting first rebuild. what are you hearing about the rebuilding of the birth.levi and is there anything you want to share with the committee about that situation and with the core is telling you and how quickly can those farmers expect to be able to get back in production with the levee it replaced? >> thank you for that question. the estimates continue to change and in fact i would be leery to tell you, but i have heard estimates as big as $10 billion for a total impact as it relates to the mississippi, anywhere to the 2 billion in your neck of the woods as it is related to new madrid. one thing to keep in perspective is 44% of all the american water that flows to the mississippi and 31 states are touched by the mighty mississippi in the course of this. it has a huge economic impact
1:26 am
and it is an economic engine. it is a highway for commerce and business impact in the country and in fact if i may, touch a little bit on that business perspective that we talked about a little bit earlier. the key thing for us as an independent federal agency that drives economic development in this part of the region, this is a real opportunity for us as federal government and stakeholders at the local and state levels to take some lessons learned from what we are seeing in joplin and that coordination and that planning. in the midst of this terrible tragedy we have a real opportunity to change the model. our national framework for response is effective and our counterparts are working hard everyday to every day to make sure these programs are in place and that we are utilizing the programs and an effective manner. is a real opportunity to change the model because the one thing from what we see from our perspective, the one real gap is
1:27 am
that focus on business and industries in the time of the natural disaster. company locating is an awesome idea. these business recovery teams that are on the ground, there are no mechanisms in place to really elevate that focus, to really put an attention on creating mechanisms and resources, not new money, but existing money to put an emphasis on how do we respond and how do we deal with it? one quick example, in the small southwest arkansas which is part of our region, the southwest arkansas planning and development is using gis to map every business in a multicounty fashion so we have an inventory of every business in that part of the state senator pryor that we know in the course of a natural disaster we have that information. can you imagine what it had been like if joplin had that inventory so we could coordinate the federal local and state level so we could make these decisions to put an emphasis on
1:28 am
sharing this information? sba does a good job and our system works well for individual and public assistance but the one area that we need to think about ways not necessarily new money but with the existing structure particularly with our small-business disaster loans. those are good but what we are doing is putting an emphasis in advocating for certain programs over another. depending on what the situation is where the disaster is. would tiahrt a is trying to give attention to an additional public awareness is how do we take something like the louisiana business operations center and expanded in expand expanded in a way that fema could use that same information to coronate and integrate with the small business administration or when a disaster happens in the dra region they can come in and go hey dra we know you have 45 local develop and districts or whatever they may be called that have the ability to touch 3000 elected officials with the delivery system that has already been proven to make sure we are utilizing all the local, state
1:29 am
and federal resources and according to fashion as it relates to supporting, rebuilding and making sure the mrs. and industries that are impacted. individual assistance is there. it works for the most part and so does the public assistance for local counties and cities but the one thing that needs additional attention as the system in place to help address our small businesses. we have seen that in this disaster is a relates to flooding. >> you but they ask a few questions if i may and let me say that senator mccaskill is correct in that we did have a few mobile homes and trailers and hope arkansas. about 15,500 according to my staff. it was not fema's finest hour when they did that but regardless of that, i do think that fema under director fugate has been doing a good job and i think what i've seen from my vantage point as i have seen an agency that has been trying very
1:30 am
very hard to get it right and i'm not saying they get it right 100% of the time that they get it right many many any more times than they get it wrong. we appreciate fema and the difficult jobs you have but let me ask you a question of the panel. i did want to ask about the disaster declaration process. i know we had an experience in our state. david you would have to tell me, for five years ago, where we had a really bad tornado. i don't think we ever got fema to do the declaration there. we tried and tried and tried but it was frustrating because we could never get a real handle on what is the criteria and who is saying no and wife. it is difficult. so i'm curious for the rest of the four on the panel, to hear your perspective on that disaster declaration process. can we streamline it? can we make it more transparent
1:31 am
or better in some way? why don't we start with you and go on down the line. >> thank you senator pryor and it is interesting you actually mentioned the the duma scenario. at the time i was working for governor beebe mad but i was sitting on the board on behalf of him with the other governors. one of the things we recognize during that process is although we never received a declaration for several reasons and we tried to mitigate that as much as possible and david was leading the way and still does that today and did a great job i might add. mr. maxwell thank you or your leadership at one of the things we were able to do because of the response framework that we had did not necessarily have structures in place or programs in place to be as responsive to business and industry. we have the one plant that make's pet food that served almost two or 300 employees that was going to relocate. but we were able to cobble state resources together and also dra
1:32 am
resources together to help them in rebuild above and beyond that they are to have the insurance for. there was not a federal mechanism in our response structure to say hey look, this is an operation that employs almost 300 people that we have already made investments in when they were in economic development projects trying to be recruited many years ago. we have already had investment in it but the system in place did not allow for it to fit into the current structure so you took a square peg in this case trying to fit it into a round hole in terms of our current system that deals with business and industry. luckily we had dra resources and we were able to use state resources with governor beebe's leadership and we invested back into that industry to keep that up and ross is currently does not allow for that kind of flexibility. >> mr. maxwell. >> thank you. i wish senator paul was here for
1:33 am
this discussion because i think we are going to talk a little bit about the number of disasters and some of the implications there. arkansas really doesn't ask for disasters from the president unless we think we have them. arkansas has our own individual assistance programs, are on public assistance programs for those that we build under the threshold and the criteria for presidential disasters. we want to take care of our own people as much as possible. i was surprised this year when we received a denial on the one request, and i frankly will take some of the blame for that. in our zeal to get the assistance out to the people quickly, we may have gotten out too quickly to do the preliminary damage assessment and didn't show all of the damage and didn't see all the
1:34 am
damage. there were some communication problems and i should have known they didn't see all that damage or we would not have passed at that time. but anyway, you know we eventually got it and we are very appreciative of the efforts that you senator boozman and the entire arkansas delegation, put in on that. is the president's prerogative and i really don't want to meddle in his business, but we have had actually when administrator fugate was the state director he worked on a task force from a standpoint with fema, looking at individual assistance criteria and we thought we had an agreement just about ready and it fell apart. but you know i think that is one of the things. if we had some idea, especially if we have an idea on public
1:35 am
assistance, we had that same sort of i.d. on individual assistance, we could manage the expectations of the citizens a little better. >> mr. womack. >> as mr. maxwell stated under public assistance there is a specific set of numeric indicators. we don't use the term threshold, because they are not hard and fast, but generally speaking if you don't need the state numeric state numeric indicators or local government does not meet those dollar amounts it is very difficult to get public assistance for declaration. by the same token if you just meet those thresholds and there was not an overall have the impact to the states you may still not get the declaration. but the fact that there is a monetary amount tied to each county and tied to the state that gives us a better method of determining whether not we have a reasonable chance of getting a declaration. under individual assistance,
1:36 am
dave and i have been involved in this for five years or more, talking about do we want standards based on the community's population, based on the community's income? do we want specific standards that says if you have this level of damage and a county county and of the state has this level of damage, then you should reasonably expect to receive a declaration, or do we really want it where the president has the flexibility to make the decision based on a number of factors. that is currently with the stafford act says. at talks in terms of the number of homes destroyed or major damage but it also talks about all these other factors. i would tell you that i would like to see more structure to it. but i would not like to see the structure be quite as defined as public assistance. i don't know if that helps. >> you know, think our world
1:37 am
economy would be that we obviously had a disaster of great magnitude and there was already this existing disaster declaration in the state of missouri for the flooding. so it was the decision to tag us on to that so assistance could again immediately which we greatly appreciate it. that put us about two weeks short of the typical window and it did take a little time to put those other two weeks on there, but we did receive immediate aid because of that ability to link us into the existing declaration. >> and could i add to that? in our first disaster this year we have ended up with over 10,000 applicants for individual assistance. that process land on larger disasters. the process goes very smoothly very quick way. fema is working outside the box with us a lot on flying over
1:38 am
flooded areas to get estimates of the damage, those kinds of rings. we have people going out in boats to do damage assessments. we tried a lot of alternatives there and it worked well. but why make it to the smaller disasters, those that we feel are especially after experiencing a large disaster, i think the thresholds or the indicators have to go down some because the state and local governments have lost a lot of capability after fighting a really large disaster. >> and you could literally have one small community. smithville is the town that got the hardest hit in mississippi. it 800 citizen used -- within smithville. probably two-thirds of the homes were totally wiped off of their slabs. would be difficult to tell that one community you don't qualify for federal disaster assistance because the rest of the state wasn't hit very hard. this is probably the most
1:39 am
difficult thing is what should be the criteria for individual crisis determination? >> let me ask one last question and my colleagues have any other questions we will take those. but we have emergency management assistance compact. i would like to hear from mr. womack or mr. maxwell how that has been working. i am in the process or if introduce legislation to reauthorize that i'm interested in you all's experience with data and how it works. mr. womack do you want to go first? >> as i tried to state in my testimony, because of the great system of mutually both in the state of mississippi and with the other states under e, we don't have to rely on federal resources. in fact i have had a conversation with craig fugate and he said that if they had to deploy a federal search-and-rescue teams to
1:40 am
tuscaloosa or joplin in my not not have been available for other types of instances. i think it is works tremendously effectively. in mississippi are reimbursement to other states for katrina for e related costs, please fire emergency medical, commodities and equipment cost was $80 million. $80 million for e services and it was tremendously tremendously effective. that is another great success story over the last 10 years since 9/11 is the fact that we have built great capabilities of the state and local level and we deploy that throughout the nation so it is a tremendous system and it needs to be continued. >> mr. maxwell? >> we have been more of a supplier of assistance than a requester of assistance. we have gotten i think back in the ice storm of 2000 we got some generators from missouri and louisiana.
1:41 am
in the ice storm of 2004 at believe or whenever the last ice storm was. i have lost track. we got some water tankers from louisiana but we sent national guard soldiers to mississippi and louisiana and katrina. this year we send search-and-rescue teams from northwest arkansas to joplin almost immediately followed up with paperwork. so it does get those needed people out there quickly, and the important thing with your bill and the steady stream of funding is that we keep improving it. it gets better every year. the current chair of the emac subcommittee is from kentucky. he is a techno-and he is looking at ways, really looking at ways
1:42 am
to improve how we i-10 of eyewear resources are so if there is a disaster you can draw a ring and immediately know what kind of resources that you need or are within that ring so you can get to the closest, the quickest, the fastest. >> thanks for putting this hearing together in thanks for that panel for sticking with us for all the time we have scheduled. that doesn't happen sometimes. but mr. masingill i want to ask you about crop insurance and other things that relate to how the ag committee responds to these disasters and while you are thinking about that, what about the funding for the safe rooms and is that available to public facilities principally? >> yes. is available and actually some good stories.
1:43 am
>> we have funded safe rooms for a school that costs $140,000. with that when the tornadoes came through it earlier this spring that not only did the schools go there but firefighters when they are in public safety citizens were able to go. directly save their lives of the cost of 144,000. >> we are building lots of publics facilities in joplin missouri and obviously had people who had nowhere to go. thinking they were going to a safe place and it turns out not to be a save place. >> specifically in joplin for example we are working and there will they will be safe rooms that meet code.
1:44 am
to make sure that they are in fact safe rooms in not only are we going to be doing that in the buildings permanently but for the temporary schools in joplin and with a temporary schools where putting up we are going to make sure there are safe rooms in the temporary schools even for the short term. in the short-term they will be safe but also it will be important for the community for the children while they are in school. >> mr. maxwell? >> more than the kids are safe, those safe rooms can be equipped with a let on a keypad or a key box that lauren enforcement and/or fire has that access that they can open up in the evening time for the community.
1:45 am
>> mr. masingill talk to me about agriculture programs and how they worked works during the crop loss and disasters that you have seen this year. >> it seems from the information we give back that is the key point. the more information the better. if usda was going to in this particular case the farmers would be impacted because the government decided to make the decision to pull the levee. contention with that i think the final verdict that we need confirmation on. >> it was. since that was taken the man-made, and senator mccaskill and i both have worked with the secretary and he made that determination actually before they blew the levee. when they blew the levee -- you have such a low water table that
1:46 am
some of the upper planes and other places in our state where you'd normally get crop insurance you may not have it in the delta. , what did you see happen there are? >> you are right on that point in some of the crop loss in missouri alone will be over 42.6 million. that is after insurance payments for the one piece of information. domino effect it is having, the secretary might've made that decision but the information we got back it wasn't until a good separation of time before people at the local level knew that was the case. the rumor mill was an issue for us. we kept on trying to get information, what was the right information how do we disseminate that and at this point, how do we repair those croplands? because we are seeing the damage
1:47 am
and what mechanisms can we put in place to help do that so that coronation of information is key. i think there are still questions about that information out. >> there is a lot of discussion right now about all of these add programs. do you want to say anything about direct payments are crop insurance either one while you are talking about a? >> i'm not sure i'm qualified to address that senator it other than obtusely the mississippi delta region is important. is a major economic driver for our region. that is the impact or inland waterways ports. dozer investments we have made in previous cycles before. that is a major economic driver in that infrastructure investment in protecting that is just as important.
1:48 am
>> senator mccaskill. >> thank you for your hard work. they always say there is a tiny silver lining in every cloud and if you are on the ground in joplin in the days and weeks following the disaster you saw the silver lining. it was glowing. and the way everyone was working together including the federal agencies in and in the municipality said showed up so thank you all for being here and thanks role of for all of the work in thank you is your chairman for holding the committee. >> i want to tank or senators from missouri for being here and all of our senators who participated i want to thank the panel. we are going to leave the record open for 15 days which is august 3 and it is very possible and i would say like you that some senators will submit either follow-up questions or maybe some of you couldn't be here today. senator landrieu was trying to but she had a couple of complex she couldn't get out of. we will leave that open and it is very likely you will get additional questions. thank you all for being here.
1:49 am
this is really been an informative and helpful hearing and without we will adjourn. thank you very much. [inaudible conversations]
1:50 am
former pakistani residents musharraf says he said and -- seven by the state of relations between his country in the u.s.. speaking recently at the wilson center, he also said he did not know about osama bin laden's presence in the country while in power. and he plans to return to pakistan next year to run for president again. this is a little more than an hour.
1:51 am
>> good morning and welcome to the wilson center. and for many of you including president musharraf welcome back to the wilson center. understand we have an overflow crowd in numerous rooms befitting an important visitor and an important speech. my name is jane harman. and the relatively new, three months into it, president and ceo of the wilson center. i'm a recovering politician having spent nine -- nine terms in the united states congress. some would say and i would agree that my timing in terms of leaving was impeccable. this is the second time that the center has hosted a public address by the former president of pakistan pervez musharraf, fact that underscores the senators intends interests in pakistan and its commitment to providing better communication and understanding between pakistan and the united states.
1:52 am
pakistan and u.s.-pakistan relationships are one of the center's highest priorities. rh a program organizes public offense on pakistan on a monthly basis. we hosted a public address by pakistan's finance minister. we bring pakistani journals and scholars and visiting scholars. in addition it is open to scholars of all nationalities. the center and its asia program sponsor an annual competition open only to pakistani scholars. i am pleased to see maybe one of those scholars re-ask con whose new book on afghanistan was written while he was a scholar is with us today. rh a program has undertaken an extensive review of the economics assistance program and
1:53 am
we will roll out the conclusions of that later this year. the house foreign affairs committee yesterday, sand that means walled off running for economic assistance and military assistance to pakistan until the president certifies that the area has adequate cooperation on counterterrorism. that is just one house committee but that is a move that some feel including me may go in the wrong direction, economic assistance i would argue is absolutely crucial. president musharraf's speech this morning comes in a timely moment. relations between our two countries are more strained today than at any time in the past 10 years. eight of our countries needs the other for the achievement of important strategic object this. yet most of the public discussion of the bilateral relationship focuses on our divisions and are as agreements.
1:54 am
perhaps a day's session will serve to remind pakistanis and americans that we have a commonality of interest coming countering terror threats, jumpstarting stalled economies. and recovering after calamitous earthquakes and floods. as a member of congress over nine terms i belong to the pakistani american congress and visited the region over 20 times. i also represented a large and prosperous pakistani american community in los angeles. many of whom president president musharraf knows very well. i saw a much beauty in pakistan especially in places like lahore, but i also saw the devastation and swat after the epic floods in the baroness of the tribal areas separating pakistan and afghanistan. general musharraf was a new president on 9/11 and spent the next seven years in that job as our world changed radically.
1:55 am
president musharraf a career army officer and veteran of the 1965 and 1971 wars against india called allied pakistan with the united states in what i believe was the misnamed war on terror. surely it was a war against al qaeda and president musharraf was our ally in that effort. he allowed u.s. troops access to pakistani military airports and bases as well as logistical and other support. it was and remains a turbulent time. the good news was a serious effort at educational and economic reform. things that are now stalled because of a more recent development. the recent discovery in 2005 at the pakistan bomb a.q. khan sold technology to korea and elsewhere. then there was a protest by the legal community about the
1:56 am
legality of the presidential -- the horrifying assassination of panettiere bhutto. his heart is all that was events have been even more challenging. the takedown of osama bin laden is something that many of us applaud, has exposed deep complex. the pakistani government recently ordered 200 u.s. special forces trainers to leave the country and that resulted in a suspension by the obama white house up $800 million in u.s. military aid. yesterday as i said congress had taken a more severe position or at least a committee of congress. we will have to see where that goes but the bottom line is those sides are frustrated and angry, but oath also understand how crucial it is for our relationship to survive. president musharraf now resides in the u.k. but travels
1:57 am
extensively in the u.s. and elsewhere. last fall he announced the creation of a new political party, the all pakistan league and his intention to return to pakistan before the next general election in 2014. before asking president musharraf to come to the podium i want to of knowledge the wilson center counsel and alliance members who i think are with us today. medina adler, a friend of mine, margaret goodman, and claudia. welcome and please any one of you who want to join the wilson council is not a hard thing to do. following his remarks president musharraf has agreed to take questions from the audience, babil dire a program lob hathaway who are sitting right there will moderate that part of this morning session. welcome back to the wilson center and it is my honor to
1:58 am
introduce former president and perhaps future president pervez musharraf of the country of pakistan. [applause] congresswoman harman, mr. hathaway and ladies and gentlemen it is indeed my proud privilege to have been given this opportunity of talking to you and i'm extremely grateful to the woodrow wilson center for affording this opportunity. i intend talking to you for about a maximum of a half an hour and then that will set the stage for i hope a lively session. i will speak basically on
1:59 am
pakistan on the region. i call the subject pakistan, a reality check. i will highlight significant issues in pakistan and the region. as i said to set the stage for a lively session. ladies and gentlemen pakistan today finds itself and the eye of the terrorism storm and an environment on overseas contradictions, mutual suspicion prevails which is extremely detrimental and weakens our joint efforts of global war on terror. the situation demands clear understanding of reality in south asia. also may i say developing egg unity of action among all the players fighting the war on


disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on